Malalai Joya & Lance Corporal Joe Glenton Speak Out

(Coming soon- I was kindly sent a review copy of Malalai Joya’s new book ‘Raising My Voice’ so stay tuned next week to marvel at my madskilz of literary criticism.)

Stop the War, Feyzi Ismail– On Thursday 23 July, the Stop the War Coalition held one of its most electrifying rallies in its eight year history. The inspirational anti-war Afghan MP Malalai Joya was joined on the platform by Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, a serving British soldier who was speaking in public for the first time against the horror caused by the war in Afghanistan. Malalai Joya has been called one of the bravest women in Afghanistan. She told the 300-strong audience that she’s survived five assassination attempts and is still not safe with personal security guards or by wearing a burkha to cover her identity. Yet she continues to campaign against foreign occupation and fundamentalist warlords, and for women’s rights and education. She believes all NATO troops must leave Afghanistan immediately. Elected to the Afghan parliament as its youngest MP in 2003, her first speech called on the Afghan government to prosecute the warlords and criminals also present in the assembly. But she had barely started her speech when her microphone was cut off, angry men were raising their fists towards her and she had to be escorted out by a human chain of supporters and UN officials around her. In 2005 she told the assembled parliament that it was “worse than a zoo.” Two years ago she was suspended from the parliament.

She told the audience of the suffering of Afghans, and in particular women, at the hands of both occupation forces and the warlords who benefit from the occupation. If the war was ever about eradicating opium, 93% of global opium production now comes from Afghanistan, and £500m goes into the pockets of the Taliban every year because of the drug trade. Afghans have lost almost everything, she said, except that they have gained political knowledge. And they are against the occupation. She holds little hope for the upcoming elections in August. She said the ballot box is controlled by a mafia of warlords and criminals, and that even if the democrats in Afghanistan could put up a candidate, they would inevitably become puppets of the US and NATO, or they wouldn’t survive in office. NATO could not possibly provide a solution because the troops are despised for the carnage they have brought to the country. As Malalai repeated a number of times in the meeting, no nation can liberate another nation, and only the oppressed can rise up against their oppressors. The only solution, she said, was for the anti-war movement internationally to speak out and demonstrate against the war in their own countries, “because our enemies are afraid of international solidarity.” It will be a prolonged and risky struggle, she continued, but the Afghans must liberate themselves.

Soldier ashamed and disllusioned

The other highlight of the meeting was the testimony of a serving British soldier. While Malalai fights against the war in Afghanistan, more and more British troops – who equally risk their lives fighting in Afghanistan – are realising the futility of this project. Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, who fought in Kandahar in 2006, told the audience that he came back ashamed and disillusioned. He said the army and the politicians never explained why they were there or what was going on, only that British troops were helping the Afghan people. When he found that the Afghans were fighting against them, this came as a real shock. He spoke of the discontentment in the ranks, which he described as dangerous, and the need for Britain to withdraw its troops.

Two years ago when Glenton heard he was being posted back to Afghanistan, he decided the only sensible thing to do was to leave the army, even illegally, as he did not believe that Britain was doing anything constructive in Afghanistan. He now faces up to two years in a civilian prison. Stop the War Coalition declared it would support Glenton and any other soldier who faced the courts on account of being against the war. Andrew Murray, Chair of Stop the War, opened the meeting by reminding us that the Stop the War Coalition was founded eight years ago in response to the threatened invasion of Afghanistan. Now that the British government has shifted its focus to Afghanistan – discussing the possibility of sending more troops, as the death toll rises past that in Iraq – so the anti-war movement will step up its campaign to mobilise public opinion to demand that all the troops are brought home as soon as possible. Public opinion in Britain has indeed shifted against the war in Afghanistan. Whatever support the war had initially – for reducing opium production, for the reconstruction taking place, for keeping the Taliban in check, for defending women’s rights and bringing democracy – people are now cutting through the media spin. They know this is an unwinnable war, that there is no reconstruction taking place and that the longer we stay the more death and destruction we cause. As Malalai put it, the war being waged by the British government in Afghanistan not only causes untold suffering for the Afghans, but it takes away from our humanity too.

In the event of the 200th British soldier that is killed in Afghanistan, Stop the War will call on all its local groups across the country to organise street protests. The current death toll stands at 188 and is rising at an average of about one per day. Stop the War will also be announcing shortly details of a major national demonstration in November to mark the anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion in 2001.

Malalai Joya’s new book Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of the Afghan Woman Who Dares to Speak Out has just been published by Rider Books.


12 Responses to “Malalai Joya & Lance Corporal Joe Glenton Speak Out”

  1. RickB Says:

    Thanks, they didn’t post that initially, good to have it here also.

  2. david Bruce Says:



  3. Michael (UK) Says:

    Well done Joe Glenton-
    Why the British Army in Afghanistan? Is it because we are freeing that country from the grips of the Taliban? Both the US & UK Governments were quite happy to provide the Taliban with both arms and funds when Afghanistan was occupied by Russia, even that arch villain bogeyman, Bin Laden, was on the American payroll. So why did this relationship break down, was it because of the terrorist attack on 9/11 on the world trade centre? Hardly both the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were actually planned before that event took place.

    Was it because the USA could no longer stand by whilst the country was ruled by “Islamic extremists” and a lack of “democracy”? Not at all, the USA/UK were more than happy to have business relationships with the Taliban, the problems began when the business relationship broke down. The strategic location of Afghanistan can scarcely be overstated. The Caspian Basin contains up to $16 trillion worth of oil and gas resources, and the most direct pipeline route to the richest markets is through Afghanistan.

    Almost as soon as the Russians had left, the Bridas Corporation of Argentina acquired production leases and exploration contracts in the region, and by November of 1996 had signed an agreement with the Taliban to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. However the American company Unocal had other ideas, even invited the Taliban to meetings in Washington, Berlin, and Islamabad, in an effort to persuade them to cancel the contract with Bridas in exchange for a tidy package of foreign aid. Unfortunately the negotiations between the Taliban, American Government officials and Unocal broke down. According to an article in the UK Guardian, State Department official Christina Rocca then told the Taliban at their last pipeline negotiation in August of 2001, just five weeks before 9/11, ‘Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.’

    So to conclude the occupation of Afghanistan doesn’t have any noble motives, it is based purely on economics, and an US/UK attempt to control the Middle East oil reserves, which also explains the occupation of Iraq and the current threats against Iran over their non-existent nuclear weapons.

    Our problem in the UK is that none of this appears likely to change in the short term as was confirmed recently by Brown standing next to George W. Bush, the world’s greatest terrorist, like an obedient puppy dog, promising to put at risk even more British lives, in the interests of American hegemony

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  5. Gareth James Says:

    May God be with Malalai Joya and Lance Cpl Joe Glenton in their brave stance against the war in Afghanistan. She must be one of the bravest women on earth and has risked her life for the cause she believes in and it would be far easier for Joe Glenton to go back and join the troops than take his stance and spend time in prison for his beliefs. He has witnessed for himself what goes on and is a brave man, braver than the fighting troops in my opinion and I believe the vast majority of reasonable thinking people.
    I am only glad that my MP in London is of the same opinion and tried to impeech Tony Blair on the issue of misleading the British people. If Adam Price MP had impeached Tony Blair at this present time maybe he would have had the support of more MPs but when it comes to putting your head on the block, they are very few and far. We will never get to know the whole truth neither the total cost of this rediculous fiasco. Good luck to both in their brave stance.

  6. RickB Says:

    Indeed Gareth. Price did a pretty good job I think, he’s certainly one the best MP’s, would be in my fantasy government.

  7. suraci Says:

    Well done Joe Glenton and our thanks to you for taking this stand. You have massive support out here, though you will not hear too much of it from our disgusting media.

    Those like you who know the truth must stand up as you have done, though we will have less to lose than you will. However, powerful forces will now come to your aid, and you will be OK, whatever happens in the their silly Court Martial.

    Men like you earn their places in the history books, unlike those faceless thousands who throw their live away for criminals. I’d like to buy you a pint one day, but as that is unlikely I would like details of any support link that I can post up on my blog.

    We stand with you brother. Love to you and your family.

  8. Russell Coite Says:

    If only others could be as brave as Jo Glenton. More of you please. Who would go to war in this modern age? I’d like to see the politicans on the battlefield who send the troops there. See how they go killing people.
    Russell Coite – Sydney Australia.

  9. M Kilbey Says:

    Absolutely disgusting, firstly Joe glenton a serving soldier should do his duty.. he signed on and knew one day he would be called upon to do his job.. Before you slate me i did 21 years in the army and served since 1986 in all the conflicts this country has thrown at me (9 operational tours)i aslo recruited for the Army (2.5 years) before leaving with a very serious injury sustained while in the Army. every person who joins is breifed as is there family. This so called soldier and i wont slate his career at the end of the day he was brave enogth to join in the first palce is a Royal Logistic soldier he is not front line but a support troop most likely a driver. Now think and think hard, What about the soldier who now has to replace him at war how does his family feel have you though about that before making this deserter a hero.

    I am sure most soldiers dont want to be in afghanistan and i have many friends who are out there, but they are there and they will do there job wheather it is right or wrong. this deserter does not speak for them and if he cared about them would get back to his job and stop trying to have his moment in the spot light. Soldiers are there to protect the country against outside influences do your duty young man. another point not all soldiesr are thick as he portrays i put young men in the infantry who had degrees under there belt alongside the not so accademic so what a stupid statement this man made.

    Well done to all british forces you are doing a stern job in what can be describe as a nightmare.

    come home safe

  10. RickB Says:

    ‘wheather it is right or wrong’ as the Nuremberg trials found just following orders in not an acceptable defence, Joe took responsibility for his own moral behaviour, a responsibility that others are shirking, in government and the military.

  11. Roma Says:

    If Col. Glenton doesn’t want to go and fight, that should be his own right. Even if a soldier signs up, he should have the option to change his mind as his circumstances may have changed. Where do HRW and AI stand in these sorts of issues?

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